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With Sophomore Rule in Place, Some See Opportunity for More Home Owners in the University District

Brent Warren Brent Warren With Sophomore Rule in Place, Some See Opportunity for More Home Owners in the University DistrictPhoto by Walker Evans.
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The rule requiring sophomores at Ohio State to live on campus — although not quite leading to the doomsday scenario painted by worried landlords back in 2008 — has definitely had an impact on the rental market in the University District.

The bigger question, though, for many residents and neighborhood boosters, is what kind of an impact will it have on the single family housing market?

“I think it’s an awesome opportunity for owner-occupants to break into the neighborhood,” says Alexander Buchner, a realtor with Coldwell Banker King Thompson, explaining that the shortage of housing inventory in Columbus is also starting to have an effect – opening up buyers to areas they may not have considered previously.

“The potential is there,” he adds, “as students realize they can be closer to campus, and people looking to buy start looking at neighborhoods like Old North Columbus, which offer a lower cost per square foot than neighborhoods like Clintonville or the Short North.”

Sharon Young , a realtor who sits on the University Community Association board and on the University Area Commission, agrees:

“I think on the outskirts of the core student area – Weinland Park, the eastern area towards the railroad tracks, and the northern neighborhoods like Old North and Glenn Echo – if someone has a house and they improve it, that could make that house much more marketable to a first-time buyer or someone looking to move from a rental… it’s a good time for investments.”

Both Buchner and Young say that there is work to do to raise the profile of the diverse group of neighborhoods that make up the University District.

“I don’t think that buyers always understand that there is viable housing there,” said Young, “and that it’s an area that links up with so many conveniences, whether that’s the High Street corridor, bus lines, or the proximity to OSU.”

“There’s a need for good solid promotion of the area,” she adds. “It mirrors so many of the other popular urban neighborhoods, and offers so many of the same amenities, I would love to see the ownership rate tick up.”

One challenge, Buchner notes, is that houses that have been rented out to students for a long period of time sometimes suffer from deferred maintenance, increasing the cost to make them marketable to home-owners.

Buchner, an Old North home-owner himself, has worked to establish a niche as a specialist in the neighborhood, which stretches from Lane Avenue to Clintonville.

“An awareness is emerging,” he says, “I felt like it was neglected as an independent neighborhood – it was viewed as more of an in-between space – but that has changed with things like the Old North Arcade opening up, which was the first store to have that identification on its sign.”

“There is a lot of good there, a lot of fun things, a lot of people with fun ideas,” adds Young. “Where else do you have a camouflage house?”

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